Abu Dhabi: 3 patients' lives saved in extraordinary triple kidney swap transplant

A hospital in the UAE Capital is now looking at expanding the unique Paired Kidney Donation initiative to the US, providing more opportunities to facilitate life-saving transplants and increase the number of organs available to UAE citizens and residents


Ashwani Kumar

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File photo used for illustrative purposes
File photo used for illustrative purposes

Published: Tue 30 May 2023, 1:19 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 May 2023, 4:17 PM

Three lives were saved after specialists in Abu Dhabi successfully carried out a rare procedure of swapping three kidneys in simultaneous transplant operations.

It was made possible through Abu Dhabi’s Paired Kidney Donation Programme with the support of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD).

The programme works with leading hospitals, such as CCAD, to match transplant recipients with compatible live donors. The CCAD’s centre has performed a total of 379 transplants since its inception in 2017 — of which the majority were kidney transplants.

In this groundbreaking triple kidney swap transplant case, three patients received organs that saved their lives. But why do these donated organs need to be swapped in certain instances?

“When a patient requires a transplant, a possible donor may agree to donate their organ, but sometimes tests reveal that the kidney is not a medical match," said Dr Bashir Sankari, institute chair for urology at Surgical Subspecialties Institute of CCAD.

"For example, a brother may want to donate one of his kidneys to his ailing sister but is found to be incompatible due to factors such as blood group or genetic differences, or due to the presence of antibodies. Separately, a husband may want to donate a kidney to his wife but is not able to due to a similar situation,” Dr Sankari said while explaining how the process of matching donors and swapping organs under the programme works.

“In such situations, a solution could be to test whether these unrelated individuals are a match for each other. By doing so, each pair can receive a compatible kidney and undergo a successful transplantation. We are proud that we were able to partner in this milestone procedure between three groups of unrelated individuals that saved three lives,” Dr Sankari said.

CCAD's successful collaboration with another local hospital to complete three simultaneous transplants strengthen's the country reputation s a preferred healthcare destination in the region for patients seeking a compatible donor and an opportunity to combat kidney failure. The Paired Kidney Donation Programme also shortens donor waiting lists and ensures better outcomes.


This initiative operates under the National Programme for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue – ‘Hayat’ — and is supported by healthcare authorities and organisations such as the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

CCAD is now exploring the expansion of this programme to Cleveland Clinic in the US, which will unlock more opportunities to facilitate life-saving solutions for kidney disease patients and increase the number of organs available to benefit UAE citizens and residents.

“It is crucial that people understand the importance of organ donation and choose to be a donor irrespective of whether the organ saves the life of their family member, friend, or an unrelated individual. Many patients remain on the transplant waiting list for too long, which puts their lives in danger. Programmes such as Paired Kidney Donation highlight joint efforts of the partnerships within the healthcare ecosystem of the UAE, which ensures that every patient receives world-class care at the right time,” Dr Sankari added.


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